Monday, October 22, 2007

10/22/07 Southern California Wildfires

California is notorious for earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires. If, by notorious, you're referring to natural disasters. For a few years, I've gotten concerned emails and phone calls every time one of those natural disasters makes the news. In response, I normally laugh or have to explain that it isn't happening near me. But these wildfires seem much, much different and much more real.

Last night, I was out with a buddy. Around 8:00 pm, we left where we were and started walking to my car. Outside, it smelled like a campfire. Even though it was dark, you can see the smoke in the air. And pieces of ash were falling as we were driving home. We both agreed that this couldn't be from the Malibu fires we had heard about on the news earlier that day. There were "gale force winds" (minimum 32 mph) the entire day, which quickly spread the wildfires. The smoke we smelled and saw were much more local, as we had assumed. Airplanes were landing in the reverse direction since the fires were in the normal landing path. Every time a plane was on approach, their lights illuminated the smoke. The news said that the planes didn't have the minimum 3 mile visibility to allow for takeoffs. Only "emergency" landings were permitted.

Today, there is still a post-disaster feel outside. The air still smells like a campfire. Probably the eeriest part is that the sky is filled with haze. The sun is peeking through the haze on an otherwise cloudless day, giving everything an orange tint. Plus, it's unseasonably warm out due to the Santa Ana winds - which, coincidentally, are the cause of the fires in the first place. Today just seems extra quiet. Ash continues to fall from the sky. 250,000 people have so far been evacuated from the homes. And local wildlife preserves are still on fire, as are some residences.

I'm not writing this so that you'll worry about me. I'll be fine. The worst I'll suffer is some burning eyes and a charred smell to my clothes. Since I don't talk to many people during the day, I have no idea if the conditions outside are of much concern to anyone. But, to me, for what it's worth, it seems story worthy.

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